Columbia leads charge of SC cities banning vaping, e-cigarettes in restaurants, bars
Camden and Sumter are among the cities that have discussed implementing similar ordinances
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — Columbia is front and center among South Carolina cities when it comes to banning the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products in bars and restaurants.
Anchored by support from business owners and public health experts, some members of the Columbia City Council say they have had no regrets after making a public stand against the use of vaping and e-cigarettes.
When the City of Columbia passed its first smoking ordinance back in 2006, Councilman Howard Duvall says there was some resistance from business owners.
“Fast forward to 2019 and you find that most of the owners were supporting us adding the vaping machine because they understand that vaping is just another way for cigarette smoke to get into their businesses,” Duvall said.
Columbia is the first city in the state to publicly ban the use of vape pens and e-cigarettes from being used in bars and restaurants.
City leaders say this ordinance targets teenagers and young adults, who health officials say are more prone to addiction.
“One pod has almost twice the amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes. If you have younger children using these products, nicotine actually rewires the brain, it changes the brain, changes the way they manage risk mitigation,” said Catherine Warner, an Outreach Coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Tobacco Control Network.
The Center for Disease Control says 85 percent of all adult smokers began using tobacco products before the age of 18.
“If they don’t understand what the full risks are of using these products and they think it won’t cause health problems, then they’re setting themselves up for a lifetime of addiction,” Warner said.
Other cities across the state have started to take notice.
Camden passed a similar ordinance last week, while Sumter’s city council might vote to join the movement this summer.
“I was very proud that we were the first in South Carolina to put this type of vaping ordinance in place, and I think that we are showing the other cities and they’re copying our ordinance to spread it around South Carolina,” Duvall said.
According to the ordinance, if someone is caught using tobacco inside a place of business, they will be slapped with a $100 fine for their first violation, $200 for the second offense, and $500 for subsequent infractions.